Month: May 2017

Half the Great Barrier Reef may have died! #StopAdani #Qldpol #auspol

AS MUCH as half the Great Barrier Reef may have died in the back-to-back bleachings over the past two years.
But the head of the authority in charge of the reef says the actual extent of damage is tricky to calculate because some parts are growing well.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority believes about 30 per cent of coral, in the reef’s northern part, died last year in bleaching caused by warmer ocean waters, chairman Russell Reichelt told a Senate committee on Monday.
Surveys after this year’s bleaching are still being done but initial observations suggest 20 per cent of coral — mainly in the central area of the 344,000 sq km reef — is dead.
“Don’t think of these figures as the net amount of coral on the Barrier Reef because there are quite big movements upwards as well as downward,” Dr Reichelt told the senators at an estimates hearing in Canberra.
The southern part of the reef had grown by about 40 per cent in recent years because it hadn’t been hit by cyclones or bleaching — but it was likely it would suffer from those in the future.
Dr Reichelt said the bigger picture question was the coral’s resilience in the face of bleachings, tropical storms and other threats such as the crown of thorns invasions.
“It depends on the frequency of these major impacts and the concern is the frequency could well be increasing and the recovery time will be insufficient,” he said.
“If the recovery time is very short, there won’t be a lot of coral.”
The best science suggests global warming needs to be limited to 1.5 degrees to allow a good survival rate for coral.
There had already been a 0.7 degree warming over the past century, Dr Reichelt said.
“I draw the public’s attention and the committee to the fact the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching we’ve seen is occurring on a fraction of a degree (rise in temperature),” he said.
“The safe levels (of warming) for coral reefs, probably we’ve passed already.”

A diver examines bleaching on a coral reef on Orpheus Island. Picture: Greg Torda/AFPSource:AFP
Dr Reichelt said the authority accepted the need to change its approach.
He said he agreed “more or less” with comments from Professor Ian Chubb, a former national chief scientist and Australian National University vice-chancellor, who told Fairfax the Reef 2050 Plan needed to be redrawn as it did not address the greatest threat facing the reef — climate change.
Prof Chubb is chairman of the independent Expert Panel advising the government on the implementation of the plan to protect the reef. The panel wants the plan revised to include steps to cut emissions and help the reef adapt to global warming that’s already being felt.
Greens senator Larissa Waters told news.com.au there was a clear call for climate change to be better addressed by government in order to save the reef.
“Dr Reichelt made a comment that we had already passed safe levels for the reef,” she said.
“It’s widely understood that with two degrees of warming, we will lose all reefs globally.”
She said limited global warming to 1.5 degrees was essential if the reef was to have any long term future.
Yet, she said the Turnbull Government was bending over backwards to facilitate the development of one of the largest coal mines in the world, potentially providing mining company Adani with a taxpayer-backed concessional loan and environmental approvals.
Adani’s $21 billion Carmicheal coal mine has been hugely controversial among environmental groups which are concerned about the emissions the coal will produce once it is dug up.
Conservative radio announcer Alan Jones has also expressed disbelief about the granting of a water licence to Adani, which will give its mine unlimited access to groundwater for the next 60 years with no government oversight.
RELATED: Is this the worst mistake Australia could make?
It’s also clear that most Australians do not support giving coal mine projects money.
A new ReachTEL poll, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, found just 6.8 per cent of people supported the idea of using public money to support coal mine projects.
The Federal Government is considering providing Adani with a $900 million concessional loan from its Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund to help it build a rail line linking the central Queensland mine with Abbot Point port so it can ship the coal overseas.
But in a separate Senate hearing, it was revealed an independent body charged with assessing major projects, Infrastructure Australia, has not done a cost-benefit analysis on the project.
The Abbot Point coal terminal. Picture: Australian Marine Conservation Society.


The Abbot Point coal terminal. Picture: Australian Marine Conservation Society.Source:Supplied
“The fact that the premier infrastructure body that looks at national ideas and ranks them in a priority list has not considered it, clearly indicates that the Adani rail line is not a worthwhile investment,” Senator Waters said.
Federal Labor is also opposed to the loan, saying taxpayers shouldn’t be used as an “ATM for Indian coalmining companies”.
Today, Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad also hosed down suggestions Adani was offered a “royalties holiday” to get its mine off the ground.
Under the mooted deal, Adani could have paid as little as $2 million a year in royalties for the first seven years, before slowly increasing to the full amount.
The estimated shortfall in royalties in the short term was around $350 million.
Talk of such a deal is believed to have caused major divisions in the state Labor cabinet, with the Left faction raising serious concerns. Ms Trad, a member of the Left, told reporters on Monday any such deal would break an election promise.
“We’ve got a pre-election commitment in relation to any subsidisation of Adani, and we made that commitment very clearly at the last state election, that there would be no royalty holiday or subsidisation of taxpayer funds for Adani,” she said.


“Having said that, I am part of a government that has made sure all of Adani’s statutory licensing arrangements have been pursued, so that the mine can get on and open, and employ people.”

Press link for more: News.com.au

Let’s Change The Conversation #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

Let’s Change The Conversation From Climate Change To ‘Shared Benefits’

By Max Guinn 

Founder of Kids Eco Club

Max Guinn,16, is the founder of Kids Eco Club (www.kidsecoclub.org), an organization of over 100,000 K-12 students, which raises eco-consciousness through school environmental clubs. 

Max has collaborated with, and been recognized by, organizations such as the United Nations,The Sierra Club, the State of California, the City of San Diego – and even the Dalai Lama – as a leader in youth engagement in environmental stewardship. 

Recently, Max also co-founded Climate Change Is 4 Real (www.ccis4r.com), to virtually connect thought leaders from all academic disciplines with student groups and educators to share facts, inspiration, and scalable solutions, to promote ocean conservation, and combat human-caused climate change and mass animal extinction.
Last September, I emailed President Obama. 

His response helped me to focus on what matters. He wrote,

“Progress doesn’t come easily, and it hasn’t always followed a straight line. 

Keeping our world’s air, water, and land clean and safe takes work from all of us, and voices like yours are sparking the conversations that will help us get to where we need to be.

 I will continue pushing to protect the environment as long as I am President and beyond, and I encourage you to stay engaged as well.”
But I worry that adults will never agree on climate change.

 The issue has become too political. 

The words “climate change” have even been scrubbed from government websites!

 Our current President refers to climate change as “a hoax.” 


Most people have no interest in discussing it.

 Try talking about C02 levels or climate science and see how far you get. 

The reality is that climate change has become a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of scientific fact.

 It has made the opinion of the ordinary person with no scientific background equal to the findings of eminent scientists who have devoted their lives and education to the study of the problem.

Only 27 percent of Americans surveyed in a 2016 Pew study agreed with the statement that, “almost all” climate scientists believe climate change is real and primarily caused by humans.

 Contrast this to multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that humans are the main contributor. 

In an age of alternative facts and a distrust of science, how do we talk about climate change and the need for action without turning people off?
Stanford Professor Rob Jackson thinks we should stop arguing over climate change and start talking about the shared benefits of addressing problems, like health, green energy jobs, and safety.

 My experience tells me that he is right.
theguardian.com

Renewable Energy Jobs

Six years ago, just before I turned 10, I started a non-profit called Kids Eco Club to inspire kids to care for the planet, its wildlife and each other.

 It starts and supports environmental clubs in K-12 schools.

 Over 100,000 kids now participate annually in Kids Eco Club activities, learning the skills necessary to lead, and to understand the issues facing our world, including climate change. 

Kids Eco Club is successful because we focus on shared values rather than C02 levels.

 Take a class snorkeling, and everyone becomes interested in protecting coral reefs.

 Bring local wildlife into the classroom, and kids will fight for green energy and clean water to protect their habitat. Passion drives us.

kidsecoclub.org

Porcupine classroom visit

My generation does not have the luxury of addressing human-caused climate change as callously or as passively as the generations before us ― because we are running out of time. 

Agriculture, deforestation, and dependence on fossil fuels release greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, trapping heat, making the Earth warmer. 

The hottest year on record? 

Last year, 2016.

 A warmer Earth creates major impacts everywhere: on ecosystems, oceans, weather.

 Sea levels are rising because the polar ice caps are melting, and the oceans are warming, which causes them to expand. Severe weather events are created from warmer oceans – warmer water, more evaporation, clouds, and rain―causing greater storm damage, more flooding, and, ironically, larger wildfires and more severe droughts since weather patterns are also changing.

graphics.latimes.com

The morning Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans

Imagine three out of every four animal species you know disappearing off the face of the Earth.

 According to the Center for Biological Diversity, we are currently experiencing the worst species die-off since dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. 

Species are vanishing at a rate roughly 100 times higher than normal. 

While things like asteroids and volcanoes caused past extinctions, humans almost entirely cause the current crisis. 

Global warming caused by climate change, habitat loss from development and agriculture, pesticide use, poaching, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and disease spread by the introduction of exotic species, are driving the crisis beyond the tipping point. 

Can you picture a world without butterflies, penguins, elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, honeybees, orangutans, salamanders, or sharks?

Getty Images

Mother orangutan and baby

The oceans provide 50% of the earth’s oxygen and 97% of its livable habitat. 

The health of our oceans is vital to our survival and the survival of the over one million types of plants and animals living there. Climate change and fossil fuel reliance raise ocean temperatures, causing extreme weather, coastal flooding, and ocean acidification. 

Ocean acidification is beginning to cause the die-off of calcium-rich species at the base of the ocean’s food chain, like coral, shellfish, and plankton.

 This die-off would trigger a spiral of decline in all sea life – from fish to seabirds to whales – and negatively impact hundreds of millions of people who rely on the oceans for food.

 Other human threats include overfishing, pollution, oil drilling and development. 

We need to act now to create change in our own communities by protecting ocean habitats, promoting conservation, and creating sustainable solutions to nurse our oceans back to health.

mintpressnews.com

Dead sperm whales found with plastic in their stomachs

In a world with over 7 billion people, we cannot continue to divide ourselves into categories like believers and climate change deniers, or Republicans and Democrats. (labor or Liberal) 

The best chance we have of ensuring a world with clean water and clean air is to engage all of us.

 If this takes changing the conversation from “climate change,” to “shared benefits,” then change the conversation. Together all things are possible.

Press link for more: HuffingtonPost

Michael Mann: “If you believe in science you must make your voice heard.

Michael Mann: If You Believe in Science You Must Now Make Your Voice Heard

It’s an honor to address this group of distinguished faculty, proud parents, supportive family members and friends.
We’re gathered here in this idyllic location to celebrate the accomplishments of these young adults as they successfully complete one great challenge and prepare for others to come.
So please join me in congratulating Green Mountain College’s (GMC) Class of 2017.
I’m especially honored to be giving the commencement speech at Green Mountain College for at least two reasons.
First of all, this is my home—broadly speaking.
I grew up in the foothills of the Green Mountains. 

Well, those of us in the slightly less “green” state of Massachusetts call them the Berkshires—but it is the same mountain range, the same magical small corner of the world.
Growing up in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts 100 miles southeast of here, I gained an appreciation for the wonder of nature hiking those mountains, wading in those streams, bicycling up and down those same hills.
I was an avid cyclist—though I didn’t rack up the 4,000 miles a year that your president does.
Really? 

4,000 miles a year President Allen??

 [looking at him]
Have you tallied the carbon footprint of all of that respiration?

 I did (the nerd in me couldn’t possibly resist). 

It’s 95 entire kilograms of CO2 equivalent.
I hope that’s been accounted for in GMC’s carbon footprint estimates.
But let me get back on message…
The other reason I am so delighted to be here has to do with what Green Mountain College represents.

 Even the name of the college seems to speak unapologetically to its vision and its mission.
And GMC proudly advertises itself as “First in Sustainability.”
Now talk is cheap of course.

 But GMC—and its students and graduates—haven’t just talked the talk. 

They’ve walked the walk.
In this year’s graduating class, for example, is a young woman named Keeley Titus. 

Keeley resided on the “sustainability floor” of her residence hall, which is built around locally raised food.
I have to say, I just love this story.
Keeley bottle-fed from birth two Nigerian dwarf goats named Margaret and Rose who reside at the college’s farm.

 She’s fed them 4 times a day. 

They are now old enough that Keely can produce fresh milk and cheese from them.
Keeley came to GMC because she wasn’t interested in conventional programs focusing on big ag.

 She wanted to learn how to replicate sustainable food systems at the smaller mid-scale.
As Keeley notes, “I think that’s the way we’re moving as a country.”
I think she’s right. 

But only because of the efforts by her and other young leaders who are driven by the vision of a sustainable future—a vision undoubtedly nurtured by their experiences here at GMC.
For over two decades, this college has demonstrated an unmatched commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability.
Amazingly, with an enrollment of only about 800 students (for the record—that’s roughly the same size as my high school), the college offers majors in Environmental Studies, Renewable Energy & Ecological Design, Wilderness & Outdoor Therapy, Sustainable Agriculture & Food Production, Animal Conservation & Care and numerous minor options in the environmental and sustainability space. 

Students can also design their own majors.
But even more impressive is the way the college integrates the theme of environmental sustainability throughout students’ educational experience via its unique Environmental Liberal Arts curriculum.
Students of all majors learn about the importance of social and ecological sustainability through coursework that stresses critical thinking, analysis and written expression.
And outside of class, the learning continues in the form of outings and field trips, and service learning projects.
This integrated focus creates a shared sense of purpose—because here, the environment is 100 percent relevant to every field.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education awarded Green Mountain College the Campus Sustainability Leadership Award in 2007 for—and I quote:
“Commitment to environmental sustainability in its governance and administration, curriculum and research, operations, campus culture, and community outreach.”
Green Mountain was named an EPA Energy Star Showcase Campus.
That GMC has received such accolades is not incidental.
Let me stress, once again, that GMC walks the walk. 

It recognizes:
1. Little Things Add Up! Like the recent campus-wide retrofitting of light fixtures and students have installed a wind turbine to power the campus green house and solar panel on the roof of the student center.
2. Student Engagement is Critical: Through the Student Campus Greening Fund (SCGF) every GMC student contributes $30 from the college activities fee. Students design projects and submit proposals. Awards are based on a student vote. SCGF money has been used to install bike racks, purchase recycling bins, use bio-diesel in campus maintenance equipment and upgrade the alternative energy systems that power the farm greenhouse.
3. We Need to Think Big: Seven years ago, GMC opened a new combined heat and power biomass plant costing $5.8m.
4. Commitments Must be Actionable: In 2011, GMC became climate neutral. Only the second college in the nation to achieve this goal, and the first to do so through a significant reduction in on-site emissions achieved through efficiency, adoption of clean energy, and purchase of quantifiable local carbon offsets.
5. Peer Pressure Works: GMC’s achievement of carbon neutrality in 2011 was followed by Colby College of Maine in 2013, and late last year, close-by Middlebury College.
In the end, though, it really comes down to the people. GMC’s faculty are of course top notch and include leading thinkers, educators and practitioners in the sustainability space.
But it’s truly the students who make GMC so special.
In recent years, GMC students have done internships with the Boston Aquarium, the Nature Conservancy, the United Nations, the Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.
They’ve done internships with Green Mountain Power and Duke Energy. Yes—sometimes change can come from within.
And so many of GMCs graduates are now working productively in the area of environmental sustainability.
Take for example Joe Bossen, class of 2008. As a student, he experimented with small community-based coop. After graduation he founded a company called “Vermont Bean Crafters”—as Joe puts it “joyfully serving the tastiest in local, organic and plant-based food.”
Joe was named Vermont Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Vermont Small Business Association in 2014.
Some of us grew up being told it’s not easy being green.
But Joe is shining example that, with a bit of creativity, you can excel in both business and sustainability in today’s world.
Or take Allan Coutinho—one of last year’s graduates. Allan is a Brazilian native who was attracted by GMC’s mission of social and environmental sustainability. He crafted a self-designed major that merged his interests in education and sustainable development. And he was the head of GMC’s award-winning delegation to the UN’s Model United Nations program.
He is now pursuing graduate studies at Harvard. He has said he doesn’t think another school would have given him so many opportunities. And I suspect he’s right about that.
Here are what a few other GMC graduates are doing today:
Kim Barrett—class of 2014, director of Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp in Vermont.
Tori Knoss—class of 2012, naturalist, Pacific Whale Foundation, Maui, Hawaii.
Cory Cheever—class of 2008, environmental educator, Vermont Institute of Natural Science.
Keith Drinkwine—class of 2010, assistant director of Camps, Parks, & Forest, N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
Mindy Blank—class of 2010, adjunct professor of Environmental Studies at GMC. She participated in the history-making COP21 climate meeting in Paris in December 2015. She has also worked for the International Energy Agency helping countries accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.
The list goes on. And an impressive list it is.
At a time when our environment is most imperiled, your work—class of 2017—is more important than ever.
Now, let me regale you with a story about my own college experience.
In 1984, after graduating from Amherst High School, I headed off to Berkeley.
To demonstrate against the policies of Ronald Reagan, you ask?
To participate in sit-ins protesting Apartheid in South Africa, you ask?
Alas, no, I didn’t go to protest or demonstrate.
I went there to study applied math and physics among some of the world’s leading experts.
And ironically, it was that path turned out to be the one that would lead me toward confrontation and battle.
I would go on to study theoretical physics in graduate school and to move into the then-burgeoning field of climate research.
My path of discovery would ultimately lead to me to publish the now iconic “Hockey Stick” curve in the late 1990s.
The curve tells an unmistakable story, namely that the current warming spike is unprecedented as far back as we can go. Our continued burning of fossil fuels is the culprit.
And fossil fuel interests and front groups and politicians doing their bidding attacked it—and me.
Despite the numerous independent confirmations of my findings by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and dozens of other assessments, the effort to discredit this research—and to discredit me personally—has continued.
I was initially reluctant about being at the center of the fractious societal debate over human-caused climate change.
But I have ultimately come to embrace that role. I have become convinced that there is no more noble pursuit we can engage in than to seek to insure that policy is informed by an objective assessment of scientific evidence.
That evidence now shows us that we face a stark choice, between a future with a little more climate change that we will still have to adapt to and cope with, and one with catastrophic climate change that will threaten the future of life as we know it.
And so here we are, at a crossroads.


Let me be blunt.
Never before have we witnessed science under the kind of assault it is being subject to right now in this country.

Nor have we witnessed an assault on the environment like the one we are witnessing in the current political atmosphere.
I will borrow and adapt—for our current time and place—the words of Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps:
First they came for the immigrants and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an immigrant.
Then they came for the scientists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a scientist.
Then they came for the environmentalists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not an environmentalist.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Friends, let this not be our legacy.
Those of us who care about science and the role that science plays in our larger public discourse and those who care about environmental stewardship and a sustainable path forward must now make our voices heard.
Become involved. 

They are so many ways to speak out and to influence the dialogue. 

So many ways we can engage constructively with governmental, civic and corporate institutions in the realms of education, public policy and industry.
Past GMC graduates have gone on to become community planners, environmental lawyers, and directors of nonprofit organizations. Many now work for state and federal agencies or educational institutions.
My good friend Bill Nye, whom I marched with in Washington DC a few weeks ago at the March for Science, often ends his lectures with the exhortation “Change the World!”
Let me go just a bit further: Let me ask each of you to change the world for the better.
I am confident you will.
Godspeed to you all.

Press link for more: Ecowatch.com

U.S. Should stand by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change & Australia should #StopAdani 

Op-ed: U.S. should stand by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

By Jean Hill

As President Trump meets with Pope Francis on May 24, the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City urges the president and his administration to heed the words of the Holy Father,

 “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.”
While the priorities expressed in Pope Francis’ statement apply to multiple policy concerns, the Diocese of Salt Lake City encourages the administration, and our congressional delegation, to pay particular attention to the dignity of the human person and the common good as they consider whether or not the United States will remain part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, an international effort by most countries of the world to reduce the greenhouse gases driving climate change.


We can see the impacts of climate change close to home, but we often miss the devastating effects our emissions have on people living in some of the poorest countries.

 Personally, I will never forget the dire straits created by rapidly changing climate patterns on the people in the African nation of Malawi. 

As part of a delegation from Catholic Relief Services, the official international humanitarian relief organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I met with farmers who were trying, without cash reserves or modern equipment, to salvage a growing season after extreme flooding left behind multiple feet of silt atop fertile land.
Those same floods also stranded hundreds of families whose homes were washed away, and who don’t have the option of moving somewhere else. 

None of the people I met were using the fossil fuels that contribute to climate change, but all were dealing with the fallout of such uses.

The people of Malawi are not alone. 

Rising sea levels threaten fresh water supplies and erode agricultural land in low lying regions like Bangladesh.

 Coffee farmers in Central America are losing entire seasons because diseases attacking their crops are thriving in the warmer temperatures, forcing many farmers to migrate to survive. 

All of this has the potential to drive more global instability to which the United States will be forced to respond.


The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City strongly urges our congressional delegation and the administration to keep the United States in the Paris Agreement. 

This international effort is necessary to serve the most vulnerable members of society who contribute to climate change the least.

 It is imperative to protect the people of Malawi, Bangladesh, Central America and elsewhere who are finding ingenious ways to adapt to an ever changing climate, but lack the resources required to not only prevent catastrophic climate impacts, but also ensure long-term survival.


As the world’s richest nation and one of the major sources of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral obligation and a national interest to address the causes of climate change and help the world’s poor adapt to it.
We are encouraged by Rep. Mia Love’s decision to join the House Climate Solutions Caucus, a bi-partisan body that acknowledges climate change and is working together to better understand its impacts and chart a path to addressing the problem. 

We also believe that the Paris Agreement is a manifestation of the stewardship needed to bring the countries of the world together to reduce greenhouse gases that are harming the environment and the people in it.
In his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis makes clear that our care for one another and our care for the Earth are intimately bound together, and that good stewardship protects both the environment and society, now and for future generations. 

Through the Paris Agreement we are already part of a global community working together on this issue.


For the sake of the poorest amongst us, the United States should remain in the Paris Agreement and honor the pledge we made to do our part to reduce greenhouse gases enough to avert future disaster.
Jean Hill is government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Press link for more: Salt Lake Tribune

Alaska’s carbon is being released. #StopAdani #ClimateChange

By Dr Joe Romm

“This carbon’ of Alaska’s tundra is being released, speeding up global warming“

This is ancient carbon, thousands and millions of years old.” 

It’s being released “much earlier than we thought.”

NASA’s Land Ocean Temperature Index (LOTI) data for April. CREDIT: NASA.

The Alaskan tundra is warming so quickly it has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide ahead of schedule, a new study finds.

Since CO2 is the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas — and since the permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today — this means a vicious cycle has begun that will speed up global warming.

“Because it’s getting warmer, there’s more CO2 coming out which means it’s going to get warmer which means there’s more CO2 coming out,” explained Harvard researcher and lead author Roisin Commane.

 Dr. Commane told ThinkProgress that “warming soils will emit more CO2 and this will overwhelm any CO2 uptake” due to an increase in plantlife from “CO2 fertilization and warmer temperatures.”’


The study is the first to report that a major portion of the Arctic is a net source of heat-trapping emissions. 

As a result, Commane warns that our current climate models need to be updated: 

“We’re seeing this much earlier than we thought we would see it.”

Earth’s melting permafrost threatens to unleash a dangerous climate feedback loop
New permafrost study underscores the critical importance of ambitious climate targets, like the Paris agreement.
“We find that Alaska, overall, was a net source of carbon to the atmosphere during 2012–2014,” the study concludes. 

Data from NOAA’s Barrow Alaska station “indicate that October through December emissions of CO2 from surrounding tundra increased by 73 percent since 1975, supporting the view that rising temperatures have made Arctic ecosystems a net source of CO2.”

The permafrost, or tundra, has been a very large carbon freezer. 

For a very long time, it has had a very low decomposition rate for the carbon-rich plant matter.

 But we’ve been leaving the freezer door wide open and are witnessing the permafrost being transformed from a long-term carbon locker to a short-term carbon un-locker.


“This is ancient carbon,” Dr. Commane told Alaska public radio. “The carbon that’s locked in the permafrost in the Arctic is thousands and millions of years old.”

7,000 massive methane gas bubbles under the Russian permafrost could explode anytime
Scorching March brings Arctic temperatures up to 20°F warmer than normal.
Melting permafrost can release not just CO2, but also methane, a much stronger heat-trapping gas.

While most models that include melting permafrost look at CO2, Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground bubbles of permafrost-related methane in Siberia.

 Since methane traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year span, these findings suggest that the effect of the melting permafrost is even greater than first thought.
Also, a 2008 study, “Accelerated Arctic land warming and permafrost degradation during rapid sea ice loss,” found that rapid sea ice loss — as has been experienced since the study was published — could triple the rate of Arctic warming.

Meanwhile, the rapid Arctic warming that is fueling these emissions continues. On Monday, NASA reported that April 2017 was the second-hottest April on record — only April 2016 was hotter. As the map above shows, Arctic temperatures were blistering, up to 13.5°F (7.5°C) above the 1951–1980 average.

The longer we delay aggressive climate action, the harder it will be to stuff all the toothpaste back into the tube, and the more catastrophic climate impacts we will face.

Press link for more: Think Progress

Another Coral Reef Devasted by Global Warming #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Scientists just discovered yet another coral reef that has been devastated by global warming
As concerns grow over the condition of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, which has endured widespread coral bleaching in the past several years, scientists are finding similar damage on reefs all over the world, including in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. 


Now, a recent expedition to the Chagos Archipelago, a collection of at least 60 small islands in the Indian Ocean, has revealed devastating coral bleaching and coral death there, too.

“In shallow water, above 15 meters and in places down to 20 meters, we’ve seen a lot of coral mortality – probably somewhere in the region of 90 percent,” said John Turner, a professor at Bangor University in Wales, who led the recent expedition.

 “It’s a very upsetting thing to see, when these reefs have developed so well, and to see them being essentially reset, if you’d like.”


The reef is believed to have suffered back-to-back bleaching events in 2015 and 2016, Turner told The Washington Post. These events were brought on by unusually warm conditions, likely influenced by climate change and an unusually severe El Nino effect in 2015. 

Scientists have found that coral reefs all over the world have been affected by these conditions, though not all have fared as badly as those in the Chagos area or the Great Barrier Reef.


Bleaching doesn’t automatically mean death for coral reefs.

 It’s a natural reaction to environmental stress, such as high temperatures, that causes the corals to expel the tiny algae that live inside them and give them their brilliant colors.

 Given enough time, the coral will regrow its algae and return to normal. 

But bleaching events can weaken the reefs, making them more vulnerable to disease.

 And if stressful conditions last long enough, the coral may begin to die.
Before the more recent bleaching event in the Chagos Archipelago, an El Niño effect in 1997 and 1998 caused a severe one.

 It took until about 2012 before the Chagos reef appeared to have recovered.
Now, Turner says, the Chagos area has suffered so much coral death that “the reefs have basically been set back to the ’97-’98 cover levels of coral.”
This raises alarm about the archipelago’s future, especially amid concerns about rising global sea levels. 

“If the reefs begin to die off in any way or erode, then of course these atolls are at risk,” Turner said. “Erosion will begin to exceed growth, and we will see these islands begin to recede. . . . That’s the natural way with atolls.”
The Chagos Archipelago includes a collection of coral atolls. 

One of them, the Great Chagos Bank, is the largest coral atoll in the world. 

It sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean, midway between the eastern coast of Africa and Singapore and about 300 miles south of the Maldives, the closest island nation.
The archipelago’s original inhabitants were expelled in the 1960s and moved to Mauritius and the Seychelles to make way for military bases, and there’s an ongoing sovereignty dispute over the islands between Mauritius and the United Kingdom. Only one island in the archipelago – Diego Garcia, the largest – is inhabited by humans, mostly military personnel and contractors.
Until recently, the area around the Chagos Archipelago was the largest marine protected area in the world.

 (It has since lost the title to other marine reserves designated in the past few years). 

Because of its protected status, Turner said, “one would hope these reefs were pristine.”
In fact, he said, a major part of the archipelago’s scientific significance is the fact that most of the islands are nearly untouched by human influence. 

That makes the site something of a reference point for researchers – a place where the ongoing effects of processes like climate change might be observed without all the extra noise that comes with human activities like fishing or construction.


“But actually, what we have learned is that the big bleaching events that are caused by ocean warming have affected these reefs just like any other,” Turner said.
Coral sampling during the expedition showed that about 90 percent of all the coral in the archipelago’s shallow waters – at depths above 50 feet or so – have died. 

In deeper waters, most of the corals are surviving, although there’s widespread evidence of bleaching, researchers said.
Turner remains optimistic about the reef’s ability to bounce back.
“We’re seeing lots of juvenile corals beginning to grow on these reefs,” he said.

 “So that’s a good sign.”
Still, one point of concern is that many of these young corals are settling down on the frames of dead corals, which may eventually break down, Turner said. 

In the longer term, more bleaching events in the coming years could further devastate an already weakened reef.

 As climate change is expected to cause severe warming events to become more frequent in the future, scientists are beginning to worry that many reefs around the world won’t have adequate time to bounce back between bleaching events.

 This is one of the issues facing the Great Barrier Reef.

Turner noted, however, that because the Chagos Archipelago is so remote and has enjoyed protection over the years, it has been spared some of the other damaging effects of human influence – such as overfishing or damage from boats and divers – that have plagued other reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, he said, there’s hope that the coral there may be hardier than in other places.
“We do make the point that this is resilient and there is a good possibility of recovery,” he said.

Press link for more: Bangor Daily News.Com

Coal is blocking Labor’s ears! #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldol #ClimateChange 

Leader of a Sinking Island Admonishes Trump on Climate Change

The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, an island nation in the Pacific, is calling out President Donald Trump for his myopic views on coal and climate change.
Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga told Motherboard no country is seriously interested in fossil fuel expansion anymore. 

No one in the US financial community wants to invest in fossil fuels, gas and oil projects are shutting down in the middle East.
“The US is going to be left behind. 

The guy in the White House doesn’t understand that,” Sopoaga said at the UN energy forum in Vienna this week.

There are more than a thousand energy experts and political leaders embracing renewable energy at this moment. 

Just one example: All of India’s lighting will be replaced by LEDs by 2019, saving millions of dollars and reducing CO2 emissions by 18 million tonnes a year, according to Piyush Goyal India’s Minister of Energy. 

This is far ahead of the US and nearly every other country.
Meanwhile, the White House is in the middle of figuring out if it will pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. 

That agreement was not only about reducing CO2 emissions, but every nation to signed it committed to phasing out the use of fossil fuels.
Climate change is an urgent concern for Tuvalu, the world’s second smallest country, since it is a mere 10 feet above the Pacific ocean at its highest point. 

Rising sea levels, driven by man-made climate change, now regularly swamp these tiny islands.

 Thousands have been forced to move to New Zealand.

 Without drastic reductions in fossil fuel use, the entire nation will drown.

The island of Tuvalu is home to 10,000 people. Image: Wikimedia Commons
If that happens, it would be to the shame of the entire world, he said. “Our islands are already sinking. 

Focusing on more fossil fuels will kill the world. 

What jobs are there on a dead planet?” Sopoaga told me.

It was a 20 year fight for Tuvalu and other small island states to reach the Paris Agreement. 

There was a very strong political consensus and there is no going back, he said. 

Meeting these commitments will bring a wide range of benefits, including lower energy costs, less air pollution, green jobs and more, he said.
Another thing the guy in the White House likely doesn’t know is that it will take the US five years to withdraw from the the agreement, according to its terms. And even then, other countries will have to agree to it.
“I’m glad we negotiated so hard to get that.”

Press link for more: Motherboard.Vice.Com

Poorest nations say Paris Climate Agreement is their “lifeline” #StopAdani #Auspol 

A drought in Guatemala that has drained this lake is being linked to climate change in the region


The world’s poorest nations say the Paris climate agreement is their “lifeline” and must be strengthened.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, (CVF) representing 48 countries, said the deal was crucial to their survival.


In a swipe at President Trump’s oft-used phrase, they said that “no country would be great again” without swift action.
Thousands of delegates are meeting here in Bonn to develop the rule book for the Paris deal.
Around one billion people live in countries that are part of the CVF.
The group firmly supports the idea, enshrined in the Paris agreement, that countries would do all in their power to keep temperatures from increasing more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.


“Keeping to 1.5 degrees is quite simply a matter of survival,” said Debasu Bayleyegn Eyasu from Ethiopia, which holds the presidency of the CVF.


“For all of us, the Paris agreement is our lifeline.”
Other speakers highlighted the fact that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current US position on climate change.
President Trump is expected to decide on future US participation in the Paris accord after the G7 summit in Italy next week.
Picking up on Mr Trump’s “make America great again,” election battle-cry, Emmanuel Guzman from the Philippines said: “Without increased climate action, no country will be great again.”
“The measure of greatness is how you are able to increase and enhance your climate action.”
Mr Guzman said he was calling on all world leaders to increase their ambition and not just Mr Trump.
“I would not like to point a finger at someone, but it is a call for action by all big or small.
“If we don’t achieve the goals of the Paris agreement there are irreversible damages and consequences.”


 VietnamGetty Images

Rising sea levels are causing problems for farmers in many climate vulnerable nations including Vietnam

“It’s a grim scenario – that’s really unacceptable to us.”
The group highlighted some of the important differences between keeping temperature rises under 2 degrees or under 1.5.


The Greenland ice sheet would enter irreversible long-term decline, with significant impacts on sea levels at 1.6 degrees one delegate said.
Warming beyond 1.5 would also “appreciably increase the prevalence of extreme storms that have already been capable of large-scale loss of life and cutting a year’s GDP in half for some of our members.”
At the last major conference of negotiators in Marrakech last November, members of the CVF committed themselves to moving towards 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
“Costa Rica produces 100% renewable energy most of the year,” said William Calvo, the country’s adjunct chief negotiator.
“But we won’t stop there: we are tackling now the transport sector and hope to even export renewable power more widely in the region.”
The idea that other countries are capable of picking up the slack if the Americans pull out of Paris gained support this week with the release of an analysis showing that India and China are likely to overshoot existing targets to cut carbon

.
President Trump’s actions to revitalise the coal industry in the US and to de-regulate oil and gas are unlikely to rapidly increase emissions before 2030 says the study from the Climate Action Tracker.
Between 2013 and 2016 Chin’s coal use declined each year and a continued slow decline is expected. 

India says that planned coal-fired power plants may not be needed if recently announced green policies are effective.



“You have to have the U.S. on board ultimately to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement,” Bill Hare from Climate Analytics told news agencies.
“But if there’s a hiatus for four years it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the game.”

Press link for more: BBC.COM

The Adani mine will kill Millions! #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol 

This is not rhetoric: approving the Adani coal mine will kill people.
Rarely have politicians demonstrated better their ignorance of the risks and opportunities confronting Australia than with Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan and other ministers’ recent utterances on Adani and Galilee Basin coal, along with their petulant foot-stamping over Westpac’s decision to restrict funding to new coal projects.

 Likewise, Bill Shorten sees no problem in supporting Adani.
The media are no better; discussion instantly defaults to important but secondary issues, such as Adani’s concessional government loan, the project’s importance to the economy, creating jobs for north Queenslanders and so on.
The Adani mine by itself will push global temperatures above the threshold increase of 2 degrees.


The Adani mine by itself will push global temperatures above the threshold increase of 2 degrees. Photo: Robert Rough

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change, which such development now implies. 

Existential means a risk posing large negative consequences to humanity that can never be undone.

 One where an adverse outcome would either annihilate life, or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

This is the risk to which we are now exposed unless we rapidly reduce global carbon emissions.
In Paris in December 2015, the world, Australia included, agreed to hold global average temperature to “well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees”, albeit the emission reduction commitments Australia tabled were laughable in comparison with our peers and with the size of the challenge.

Dangerous climate change, which the Paris agreement and its forerunners seek to avoid, is happening at the 1.2-degree increase already experienced as extreme weather events, and their economic costs, escalate.

 A 1.6-degree increase is already locked in as the full effect of our historic emissions unfolds.
Our current path commits us to a 4 to 5-degree temperature increase.


 This would create a totally disorganised world with a substantial reduction in population, possibly to less than one billion people from 7.5 billion today.
The voluntary emission reduction commitments made in Paris, if implemented, would still result in a 3-degree increase, accelerating social chaos in many parts of the world with rising levels of deprivation, displacement and conflict.
Adani Group founder Gautam Adani with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.


Adani Group founder Gautam Adani with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

It is already impossible to stay below the 1.5-degree Paris aspiration.

 To have a realistic chance of staying below even 2 degrees means that no new fossil-fuel projects can be built globally – coal, oil or gas – and that existing operations, particularly coal, must be rapidly replaced with low-carbon alternatives. 

Further, carbon-capture technologies that do not currently exist must be rapidly deployed at scale.
Climate change has moved out of the twilight period of much talk and limited action. 

It is now turning nasty.

 Some regions, often the poorest, have already seen major disasters, as has Australia.


 How long will it take, and how much economic damage must we suffer, particularly in Queensland, before our leaders accept that events like Cyclone Debbie and the collapse of much of the Great Barrier Reef are being intensified by man-made climate change? 

Of that there is no doubt, nor has there been for decades. 


The uncertainties, regularly thrown up as reasons for inaction, relate not to the basic science but to the speed and extent of climate impact, both of which have been badly underestimated.
The most dangerous aspect is that the impact of fossil-fuel investments made today do not manifest themselves for decades to come. 

If we wait for catastrophe to happen, as we are doing, it will be too late to act. 

Time is the most important commodity; to avoid catastrophic outcomes requires emergency action to force the pace of change. 

Australia, along with the Asian regions to our north, is now considered to be “disaster alley”; we are already experiencing the most extreme impacts globally.


In these circumstances, opening up a major new coal province is nothing less than a crime against humanity. 

The Adani mine by itself will push temperatures above 2 degrees; the rest of the Galilee Basin development would ensure global temperatures went way above 3 degrees. 

None of the supporting political arguments, such as poverty alleviation, the inevitability of continued coal use, the superior quality of our coal, or the benefits of opening up northern Australia, have the slightest shred of credibility. 

Such irresponsibility is only possible if you do not accept that man-made climate change is happening, which is the real position of both goverment and opposition.

Nowhere in the debate is the critical issue even raised: the existential risk of climate change.
Likewise with business.

 At the recent Santos annual general meeting, chairman Peter Coates asserted that a 4-degree world was “sensible” to assume for planning purposes, thereby totally abrogating in one word his responsibility as a director to understand and act on the risks of climate change. 

Westpac’s new climate policy is a step forward, but fails to accept that no new coal projects should be financed, high-quality coal or not. 

The noose is tightening around the necks of company directors. 

Personal liability for ignoring climate risk is now real.

Yet politicians assume they can act with impunity. 

As rumours of Donald Trump withdrawing from the Paris agreement intensify, right on cue Zed Seselja and Craig Kelly insist we should do likewise, without having the slightest idea of the implications.

The first priority of government, we are told, is to ensure the security of the citizens. 

Having got elected, this seems to be the last item on the politician’s agenda, as climate change is treated as just another issue to be compromised and pork-barrelled, rather than an existential threat.

We deserve better leaders.


 If the incumbency is not prepared to act, the community need to take matters into their own hands.


Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

He is a member of the Club of Rome.

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Climate Change Our Greatest Moral Challenge & The generation gap 

Climate Mission—and Winning Converts

Pexels/Pixabay
For decades now, the organized climate-denial machine in this country—largely composed of polluting billionaires, bought-and-paid-for government officials, spurious think tanks, and a colorful assortment of freelance cranks—has liked to think that the millions of Americans who describe themselves as evangelical Christians are totally on board. 

The relationship they’ve cultivated is founded on the presumption of shared mistrust. 

To evangelicals, climate deniers have essentially said: You don’t really think those pointy-headed scientists have all the answers about the origins of the universe or how life on earth began, do you? 

So why would you ever trust them on this?

It’s easy to see what the climate-denial machine has gotten out of the relationship (besides fossil fuel profits).

 First and foremost, evangelicals have long represented a reliable voting bloc that can generally be counted on to organize for candidates and show up on election day; having them in your column is extraordinarily helpful at the basic level of boots-on-the-ground political reinforcement. 

Secondarily, climate deniers benefit from the patina of righteousness that comes from their association with the devout. 

When the policies you endorse are demonstrably linked to increased death, devastation, and human misery, believing that the majority of America’s evangelical Christians are nominally on your side must offer some degree of conscience-easing comfort.

But that invites the question: What do evangelical Christians get out of this relationship? 

Right now, the younger ones, at least, are getting the sneaking suspicion that they’ve been had. 

It is their future that’s at stake, after all.
It’s important to note here that a great deal of philosophical and political diversity exists among evangelicals, not all of whom fit neatly under the label of “Christian conservative.”

 While they tend to agree on fundamental theological matters, they’re not afraid to have vigorous internal debates over any number of hot-button social issues. 

One of these issues is climate change. 

And it now appears that evangelicals, especially millennial evangelicals, are starting to rebuff the advances of the climate-denial machine and to absorb climate action as an aspect of their faith—which compels them, after all, to be good stewards of God’s creation.


Since its inception in 1999, the Micah Network, a global community of relief workers and development specialists, has worked to make the easing of the poor’s burdens a larger part of the Christian mission.

 In 2005, the network launched the Micah Challenge, designed specifically to effect public policy that would help alleviate the poverty and suffering of more than 800 million people around the world who survive on less than $2 a day. 

For the young, energetic evangelicals who make up the Micah Challenge’s leadership, personal acts of charity for the poor, while laudable, aren’t enough. Poverty and suffering, they say, are structural problems that require structural solutions.



Visit the Micah Network’s website and one of the first things you’ll notice is how straightforwardly the organization prioritizes climate justice within its goals of “mobiliz[ing] Christians to end extreme poverty through changing attitudes, behavior, and policies that perpetuate injustice and deny God’s will for all creation to flourish.” 

Its adherents are naturally concerned about the disproportionate impact that climate change has on the world’s poorest people―making life much more difficult, and often impossible, for those living in areas highly susceptible to natural disaster, for example, or where food supplies are dependent on fishing or subsistence farming.
On one level, the group wins hearts and minds with the aid of high-profile Christian figures who understand the urgent need to rally public support for the cause. 

In 2015, the Micah Challenge sent a contingent of well-known Christian recording artists to the United Nations–sponsored COP 21 summit to witness the signing of the Paris climate agreement—as well as to “witness,” in the more religious sense of that word, for climate justice.

 And just last week, in the days leading up to the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., a small but influential group of Micah-associated authors, musicians, and scientists traveled to the nation’s capital. 

There they met with Republican lawmakers and others to express their displeasure at the Trump administration’s many attempts to defund or otherwise dismantle federal efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
In truth, support for climate action among evangelical faith leaders isn’t a new thing.

 The Evangelical Climate Initiative, which currently represents more than 300 of these leaders, has been sounding the trumpet on climate change for more than a decade. 

But the message hasn’t always caught on among parishioners, many of whom may feel uncomfortable endorsing a position they perceive as “liberal” or “progressive.” 

What feels different about this moment in time is that groups like the Micah Challenge, aided by expert climate communicators like the scientist Katharine Hayhoe, finally seem to have broken through to the next generation.


Katherine Hayhoe

 This generation has grown up not just reading and studying about the effects of climate change but actually living through them. 

Millennials don’t pay too much attention to the ravings of misguided senators or to dubious reports put out by pro-pollution think tanks. 

But they do listen to the words of their favorite bloggers, authors, and singer/songwriters.
Every week seems to bring more bad tidings for federal climate action and the planet. 
But here’s some good news: Our battle over whether and how to address climate change is looking less and less like a culture war these days, and more and more like a generation gap. 


And as is the case in any generational struggle, the old guard doesn’t have a prayer.

Press link for more: NRDC.ORG